What is Max Baucus proposing in his inital health reform bill? Most of the principles are based on the Senate Finance Committee 2009 white paper. Below
- Creation of a Health Insurance Exchange. Insurers participating in the exchange could would be precluded from discriminating based on pre-existing conditions.
- Expand Medicaid to all individuals below 133% of the federal poverty line.
- Expand SCHIP to cover all children in household below 250% of the federal poverty line in 2013.
- Reduce Medicare Part D ‘donut hole’ so that enrollees in the donut hole range only pay 50% of drug costs rather than 100%.
- Standardize benefits into 4 categories: bronze, silver, gold and platinum.
- Excise Tax: Levy a non‐deductible excise tax of 35% on insurance companies and plan administrators for any health insurance plan that is above the threshold of $8,000 for singles and $21,000 for family plans.
- Individual Mandate with tax subsidies. Those with incomes between 133% and 300% of the FPL would be eligible for these subsidies. Those who don’t get health insurance will be subject to a fine.
- Employers who don’t provide health insurance must contribute to a fund to cover government insurance/subsidies for these individuals. Small employers with less than 50 employees are exempted from this requirement.
- Small business subsidy. Businesses with the fewest workers and the lowest wages would be offered a new tax credit to purchase health insurance for their employees. The subsidy is up to 35% of the business’s contribution.
- $6 billion for co-ops. This money would be used to fund the start-up costs and capital requirements for these co-ops.
- Preventive Services: Eliminate Medicare copayment for preventive care. Provide financial incentives to encourage Medicaid to cover preventive care services without copayments.
- Do not cut Medicare physician payment according to the SGR. Instead, increase Medicare physician compensation.
- Malpractice reform. Allow states to develop alternatives to the current tort litigation system.
Ezra Klein also has a nice review of parts of the Baucus bill: Exchanges, Insurance Regulation, Affordability, Individual Mandate, Co-ops, Taxing Insurers. Time magazine also has a FAQ on the Baucus bill.